LightPath Makes Its Convergence Move

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Cablevision Systems Corp.'s Lightpath subsidiary is deploying multiprotocol label-switching technology within its network using Cisco Systems Inc.'s 7600 series switch, allowing the company to deliver its commercial voice and data services over a single, converged Internet-protocol core network.

“Lightpath is now positioned to seamlessly support all existing legacy networking protocols, as well as the new protocols required to deliver emerging services, such as metro Ethernet, virtual private networks and voice-over-IP,” said Brian Fabiano, senior vice president of network services at Lightpath. “We are going to attract new clients and generate additional pull from existing clients.”

Cox Communications Inc. also has begun to deploy some MPLS technology in its network, as cable operators evolve beyond a traditional video-only transport plant.

Lightpath provides voice and data services to businesses inside Cablevision's footprint in the New York metropolitan area. That includes parts of New York City, Long Island, Westchester County, N.Y., southern Connecticut and northern New Jersey.

INCREASED BANDWIDTH

The MPLS addition follows Lightpath's transformation from a synchronous optical networking (SONET)-based plant to one that relies on dense wave-division multiplexing by several months . The move created an increase in capacity that smoothed the transition to MPLS.

The older SONET gear was “rigid,” Fabiano said. “We couldn't carve up bandwidth for voice and data services.”

Earlier this year, Lightpath launched a two-phased upgrade, starting with the deployment of DWDM gear from Nortel.

“DWDM is really a play to get increased bandwidth out of the fiber infrastructure,” Fabiano said. “We have a tremendous amount of fiber in the ground, close to 130,000 fiber miles,” he said of Lightpath's OC-48 network.

But that fiber is largely maxed out. To extend beyond OC-48, “we'd have to put in more fiber and more electronics,” said to Fabiano, who noted that such a process would be expensive.

Instead, “we can take the same pair of fiber and provide multiple wavelengths on the same fiber” using DWDM. Prior to DWDM, Lightpath could get 2.5 Gigabits on a single fiber pair.

DWDM allows Lightpath to increase capacity by a factor of 32.

“We'll be able to get 32 protected wavelengths of 10 Gigabits on each fiber pair,” he said. “We get the core bandwidth maximized.”

The second phase launched last week with the MPLS implementation. “We will overlay the core with MPLS,” he said. “It creates a network within a network. We can do everything over a single IP core. Within that core, we will establish separate VPNs to handle different types of traffic, [quality-of-service] levels, etc.”

CISCO COMPONENTS

The MPLS implementation is built around the Cisco switch and associated components from the vendor, at the edge of the network.

“We have multiple Cisco components to make the end-to-end connection,” he said. “We can launch managed VPN services to a client, and offer 'any-to-any' connectivity for virtual LAN services.”

If a company has an ATM site at headquarters, but frame relay to branch offices, Lightpath can now connect those disparate networks using MPLS. “MPLS facilitates networking between locations,” he said.

The company said it has started an MPLS trial with an e-commerce company that provides secure IP networks and services to the financial community.

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